Companies to benefit from observing human rights practice

by NUR HANANI AZMAN/ graphic by MZUKRI

THE economic slowdown around the world, accelerated now by the Covid-19 pandemic, is pushing for more companies to integrate human rights in their business practice.

Deloitte Malaysia Senior Consultant Upasana Mukherjee said all companies have the responsibility to respect human rights and to address adverse impacts when the violations of this right occurs.

She said companies that respect human rights may gain commercial benefits such as attracting investment, procurement, top quality recruit and reputational benefits.

“Companies that respect human rights earn and secure their social licence to operate and avoid potentially costly company-community conflicts.

“They also can avoid potential legal conflicts ahead of time by knowing norms and legal doctrines on corporate liability and human rights obligations,” she said during the EUROCHAM Malaysia BizTalks Webinar: In Conversation with Europa Awards Sustainability Leaders Part 2 recently.

For example, she said Coca-Cola Co has been submitting to the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark disclosure platform since 2013.

Coca-Cola facilitates approximately 2,500 third-party audits at company and supplier sites to evaluate compliance with their human rights policy.

Nestlé SA has been assessing human rights impacts in its businesses since 2013. In 2017, they published the Labour Rights Roadmap to map priority commodities to responsible sourcing, she added.

These companies are staying ahead of the curve upholding and articulating their commitment towards human rights.

“Having staff and management trained on human rights helps build internal buy-in. Companies can start with building capacity to internalise the principles of human rights.

“Clear and standardised operating procedures facilitate risk mitigation, while having inclusive and cogent policies will improve adherence to social responsibility,” she explained.

Human rights can be a way of identifying new business opportunities, as sometimes what might be first perceived as a risk to a business can be converted into an asset.

Meanwhile, Hap Seng Plantations Holdings Bhd (HSP) GM Agronomy Kee Keow Chong said HSP ranked at No 19 from 99 companies globally on ZSL SPOTT (Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit).

He said ZSL SPOTT assess palm oil producer and trader’s public disclosure of their policies, operations and commitments to environmental, social and governance best practices, to facilitate corporate engagement and increase industry transparency.

“To achieve wider acceptance of our products without compromising on our sustainability commitment, we also managed to have our palm oil mills Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points-certified starting June 28, 2017.

“Our palm oil mills are also halal-certified starting Sept 1, 2019, and Makanan Selamat Tanggungjawab Industri-certified starting Feb 13, 2019,” he added.

For 2019, HSP has achieved reductions of around -26% in its net carbon emissions and its footprint per tonne of crude palm oil compared to 2018.

“The commissioning of our biogas facilities contributed significantly to this reduction,” he added.